Date: June 30, 2011
Total Distance: 5.48 miles
Time to Completion: 1:49 (hr:min)
Elevation Gain: 446 feet
Part of the fun of going out on a hike is the adventure. Or even the potential for adventure. There's nothing more thrilling than planning your hike using nothing but a trail and a topographic map. Sitting at a table, maps in hand, plotting out how long your trip will take, whether you'll do a loop or balloon configuration, and what to bring in your pack. Using a trail-guide book like the ones mentioned on this website can offer advice and tips as to what the best route may be, but it's really up to you to create your own adventure. The satisfaction you get after completing a successful hike that you plotted yourself - it is a wonderful feeling.
Keeping all of this in mind, if someone were to suggest that you employ the services of a trail guide, you may just ask them, "Why?" Won't it take some of the fun - some of the adventure - out of the hike?
Upon arriving at Hickory Run, we strapped our packs on, and pulled out our hiking poles. We had recently purchased them, and were clearly unsure about how to use them. Could there really be a method to using a hiking pole? As it turns out, there is! And, Tom spent a good portion of the early leg of our hike teaching us how to use them properly, while also instructing us to be on the lookout for bears....
Tom's tips included: keep talking (if a bear can hear you talking, they'll usually go the other way); use your walking stick/hiking pole to strike trees which would again make noise to let bears know that you're in the area; and, be aware of your surroundings. This last item includes being aware of what kind of fecal matter you may be walking by on the trail.
Bear scat has a distinctive look to it (see above - your welcome!). Be aware of it. If it looks fresh, there may just be a bear in the area!
As we made our way along the trails of Hickory Run State Park, Tom continued to educate us on a variety of subjects, including: the local history of Jim Thorpe and Hickory Run; how to properly walk using our hiking poles; how to orient ourselves using a map; and, how to check for snakes as you are walking over a downed tree trunk (use your hiking pole to smack the trunk before you walk over it!). Not only that, but he took a lot of great pictures of us!
|Hiking Mike and Francesca on the Trails of Hickory Run
The hike was amazing, with some breathtaking views of the panorama from the highest point of Hickory Run. Along the way, we did run into a fair few vacationers who went into Hickory Run with nothing more than a bottle of water between them and no map. If they appeared confused and unsure, Tom would stop and take the time to re-orient them to their surrounding, show them our map, and get them back in the right direction, never once brushing them off. Tom was the commensurate professional. You can tell this was not just a job for him, but a way to share what he loves about hiking and about Jim Thorpe with everyone.
By the time we had finished our hike through Hickory Run, we had logged almost 5.5 miles! But there was still more to come! Boulder Field! Hawk Falls! We had managed not to shame ourselves in front of an experienced hiker (and, had no problems emptying our bladders off-trail [see trail etiquette]), and we learned a lot along the way.
We will be continuing to present you with our series of hikes in Jim Thorpe soon. But for now, as this is not only a presentation of our hiking experience but also a review of the service we were provided, I leave you with this, our final word on The Jim Thorpe Experience: as a trail-guide, as a local-history buff, and as a person, our guide Tom provided "Hiking" Mike and Hiking with Impunity with an amazing trip through the Best of Hickory Run. Even if our experience level had been more advanced, using Tom as our tour guide would have great advantages. Certainly, we highly recommend using Tom and the Jim Thorpe Experience, and Hiking with Impunity would rate their service a 5/5.
We hope you enjoyed reading. Please remember: these articles present our opinion and should never be taken as absolute fact. If you have any comments or questions, or have a better method on how to react when you see a bear, please feel free to post a response.
*** Disclosure: Hiking with Impunity and The Jim Thorpe Experience are separate entities and have no financial relationships to disclose. Hiking with Impunity paid for the service The Jim Thorpe Experience provided, and would gladly do so again!